Selection of private or public hospital care: examining the care-seeking behaviour of patients with private health insurance

Rezwanul Hasan Rana, Khorshed Alam, Jeff Gow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study aimed to examine the healthcare-seeking (hospital, primary and preventive care) and healthcare utilisation behaviour of patients with private health insurance (PHI) in Australia. It also aimed to examine the socioeconomic, demographic and lifestyle factors that influence the choice of hospital care in Australia.

Method: A logistic regression model with repeated measure t-test and Pearson’s Chi-square test were used to identify the factors that affect the choice of care. Data from waves 9 (2009) and 13 (2013) of the nationally-representative Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey were used in the analysis.

Results: Patients with PHI had a higher number of hospital nights’ stay despite having a lower number of hospital admissions than those without private cover. Significant disparities were identified in preventive and specialist care use between patients with cover and without cover. No significant variations were observed in healthcare utilisation for PHI patients before and after dropping PHI. One in four patients chose to use public hospitals despite holding PHI cover. Moreover, those insured and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those who were younger and without long-term health conditions showed a higher probability of selecting public rather than private care.

Conclusions: It is evident that PHI cover encourages people to use private care. However, a considerable number of PHI patients are using public care, even though eligible for private care may indicate consumer information asymmetry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number380
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Australia
  • Care-seeking
  • Healthcare use
  • Hospitals
  • Private health insurance


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